The G20 meeting has been and gone, and China and America have for now called a truce for 90 days rather than reignite their trade war on 01 January. We are fortunate to be able to analyse a vast array of data from a variety of sources, when it comes to assessing the health and trajectory of Western market economies, but that is not the case with China.
Why The House (Or In This Case, The Bank of Japan) Always Wins…
As the Federal Reserve jolts financial markets across the World by indicating that US interest rates will continue to rise through 2019, the Bank of Japan follows a very different path. Indeed, the Bank of Japan Deputy Governor, Masazumi Wakatabe, declared earlier this year that “there are no limits to monetary policy”. If any one Central Bank is trying to prove this statement accurate (or a potential grand folly), it is the Bank of Japan.
Following a turbulent October, the Market was hoping that the US Mid-term elections this week could help to start a much needed Christmas rally. The outcome largely matched the forecasts. Democrats won control of the House (for the first time in 10yrs), while Republicans retained the Senate.
From a low of $42 a barrel, in early February 2016, the Brent crude measure of oil has risen over 95% to stand at $82 a barrel at the end of September. Given that the US imposed sanctions on Iran which kick in next month and the Venezuelan economy may well be on the verge of collapse – then could we be on the cusp of another oil price shock with $100 a barrel being the near term target?
So, a recession is coming, we do not know when, what will cause it, nor for how long it might last. We do know that with interest rates in many parts of the World below zero, close to zero or not much more than 2% (outside of Argentina where they have been 60% recently), that the old levers of monetary policy are not available to stimulate demand as has been the case in prior recessionary scenarios when central banks would slash interest rates, as was last seen post the 2008 financial crisis.
Central banks are for the most part independent financial institutions across the advanced world, but it does not mean they are immune to outside pressure and, at times, their level of independence from political influence is no wider than a cigarette paper.
After World War II the United States and Russia broadly carved up large swathes of the World (China looked very much inward). In what has been known as ‘The West’, post-1945, we got used to a global system policed by an array of acronyms ranging from the IMF, IBRD, OPEC, EU, BIS, WTO etc.
President Trump has not been afraid to upset the apple cart over many issues, since his election to public office, but perhaps the one area he has been consistent on for decades in a personal capacity is his view over the US being stiffed on trade with foreign nations.
Following the close of the 19th Annual Party Congress in China and subsequent elevation of President Xi to effective premier for life last week we wanted to cast our eye over the likely economic strategy.
We enter the New Year with the President of the United States tweeting about his ‘big red button’ nuclear trigger being larger than that of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, or in Trump parlance ‘little rocket man’.